Coatzacoalcos is a rather unlovely oil town and isn’t a tourist destination by any means. The town itself is very linear and strung out along the Malecón Costero, the long seafront road. There’s not a lot to see except the lighthouse and a replica Mayan pyramid on the waterfront. The town is built on sand dunes and is relatively flat although on the horizon you can see the San Martín Tuxlta volcano which last erupted in 1796. I was here for just four nights. My Google map with all these places on is here.
There’s a beach but the locals told me that it was pretty dirty and if I wanted to swim it was better to go to Playa Barrillas, a beach by the river where it meets the sea.
It cost about 180 pesos and took 20 minutes to get there in a taxi. I went on my day off and had a pleasant day sitting in El Paradiso restaurant by the river bank, reading, drinking beers, eating seafood and watching the locals at play.
The waiter advised me to get the prawns which were pretty good (B+).
I also had some excellent freshly-caught oysters (A) which were also the cheapest I’ve ever eaten at only 60 pesos for eighteen. I was given some spicy ketchup to eat them with but preferred to stick with lime juice and a drop or two of some evil green chilli sauce out of a squeezy bottle.
I also tried a Michelada; beer mixed with tomato juice, lime juice, salt and assorted sauces, such as hot sauce, Maggi sauce, Worcestershire sauce and served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass, but it was too sour for my taste (C-).
There were quite a few hawkers selling interesting looking foodstuffs which I couldn’t take a chance on (can’t risk being sick for work), and a few clowns and musicians.
One old guy had a harp that looked like it had been made out of old bits of furniture and other string instruments. I’m not usually a fan of buskers but his music was so beautifully melancholic and moving, even if I only understood a few of the lyrics which were about love and the stars.
I stayed at the One Hotel which is on the edge of town, next to the big Forum Plaza Mall which has a cinema and food court (KFC, Burger King, Subway etc). It was very busy at the weekends.
The hotel breakfast is pretty horrible (D+) although you do get lots of fresh fruit. On the plus side, the rooms are essentially ok, the Wi-Fi worked well and the staff were helpful and pleasant. However, if I were to go again and had a choice, I might try the Holiday Inn or perhaps the Fiesta Inn, both of which are nearby.
Adjoining the hotel on the other side is Chilis Restaurant (on Javier Anaya Villazón, www.chilis.com.mx) which is a modern sports bar type of place with lots of TV screens showing live football. The food (Mexican, pasta, ribs etc) actually isn’t too bad, or at least the Beef Fajitas (B+) weren’t. They come with a small tower of condiments and a stack of fresh tortillas.
I was also very impressed by their Tamarind Margarita (B+) which I’d never come across before. (This has become a bit of a thing for me and I have one whenever it’s on the menu). The youthful service is pleasant and efficient. With tip and tax the meal came to around 280 pesos.
A taxi to the centre of town is only about 50 pesos so I tried a couple of restaurants there as well:
Mr Pampas (at 17 Glorieta Pintores Mexicanos, www.mrpampas.com) is a Brazilian style churrasco ie an all-you-can-eat restaurant with a set price of 200 pesos for the food. The waiters bring spits of different kinds of meat to your table and carve them on to your plate. There’s a huge salad bar with just about everything you can imagine, including sushi.
To be honest not much of it is particularly good (except some cuts of pork and beef, and the chorizos) and I left a lot of it on my plate (B/C/D). The Caipirinhas were mixed with lemonade so you should say if you want a proper one. I guess you can’t complain too much given the price. It’s pretty brash and loud (lots of screens blaring commercial music) and very popular, as would befit the Trip Advisor #2.
On paper, and Trip Advisor (#3 in 2017), El Trocadero (at 509 Paseo Miguel Aleman, cabrito.com) would seem to be one of the better places in town but I wasn’t that impressed. The menu is on an Ipad so you can scroll through the pictures and avoid the steaks with gloopy sauces and three veg out of a bag.
I went for the local speciality of Barbacoa de Arrachera. Barbacoa is an ancient indigenous cooking method and is the origin of the word ‘barbecue’. The meat (skirt steak in my case) is steamed in a palm leaf. It wasn’t too bad (B).
With a portion of rice and couple of Bohemia Clara the bill would have come to about 300 pesos with tip and tax but I also had a couple of shots of their best quality tequila anejo, Tres Generacion (B), which added about 170 pesos.
Service from the old waiter was stoical but efficient and the ambience was formal and relatively quiet.
Other places suggested by the teachers were Asadero, Mar y Sal and Jean Chinchona. I was told the seafood was the thing to have and I’d concur given my other eating experiences. Tacos de Cochinita Pibil were a recommendation.
A taxi from Minatitlin Airport to the One Hotel takes 15 to 20 minutes and costs 260 pesos. The return cost 230 (in 2015). There is a solitary socket for recharging in the café before security, and again in the wall by the gate, but there doesn’t seem to be any free internet.
Over to the west coast next!